Leukemia: what is it, photo

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, which produces blood cells. A synonym is a leukemia the term «leukemia».

What is the leukemia?

Leukemia is a malignant blood disease in which the bone marrow produces abnormal cells. Usually, leukemia affects the production of white blood cells – cells responsible for fighting infection. The function of these abnormal cells is disrupted, their number gradually increased, crowding out normal blood cells. Eventually, the body becomes more difficult to fight infection, control bleeding and transport oxygen.

Causes of leukemia

Although the exact cause of leukemia is unknown, scientists believe that the different types have different reasons. The following factors increase the risk of developing leukemia:

  • Artificial ionizing radiation.
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus and HIV.
  • Benzene and some petrochemicals.
  • Alkylating chemotherapy drugs used to treat other cancers.
  • The use of hair dyes.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Down Syndrome.

What are the different types of leukemia?

Based on the speed of development of the disease and of the type produced by the pathological cells secrete different types of leukemia. If the disease develops quickly, it is called acute leukemia. In this form in the blood and bone marrow very quickly accumulate a large number of leukemia cells that leads to the development of the symptoms of leukemia. Chronic leukemia develops more slowly. Leukemia is classified according to the type of white blood cells into myeloid and lymphoid. Thus, there are four main types of leukemia:

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  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia – the most common type of leukemia in children, which is less common in adults.
  • Acute myeloid leukemia can develop in both adults and children.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia – a slowly progressing cancer of the blood, which affects generally people older than 55 years; this form of leukemia almost never occurs in children or adolescents.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia mainly affects adults.
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In addition to these main types of leukemia there are also more rare.

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As there is leukemia?

Symptoms and signs of leukemia depend on its type. For example, chronic and slowly progressing leukemia may not cause any symptoms early in the disease, and the aggressive and rapidly progressive acute leukemia can cause the serious condition of the patient. The clinical picture of leukemia is caused due to the loss of the functions of normal blood cells or from accumulation of abnormal cells in the body. Usually, symptoms and signs of leukemia include:

  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Swollen lymph nodes that are usually painless.
  • Feeling of increased fatigue and General weakness.
  • Increased bleeding that manifested bruising and frequent epistaxis.
  • Frequent infectious diseases.
  • Joint and muscle pain.
  • Unexplained weight reduction.
  • Deterioration of appetite.
  • Enlargement of the spleen or liver that may cause abdominal pain.
  • Red spots on the skin (petechiae).

If the leukemic cells have intertribal the brain, can cause headaches, seizures, loss of consciousness, loss of control over the movements and vomiting.

The treatment of leukemia

For the treatment of leukemia there are various methods, the choice of which usually depends on the type of disease, patient’s age and state of his health, and infiltrated the abnormal cells in the Central nervous system. To select the treatment is a laboratory determination of genetic changes or specific characteristics of leukemia.

Some people with chronic leukemia who do not have any symptoms, we use the strategy of careful observation, which involves monitoring the disease and start treatment at the appearance of the clinical picture. Careful observation allows the patient to avoid side effects of therapy or to defer them. The risk of this strategy is that the treatment is postponed until the deterioration of the disease.

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Treatment of leukemia includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, stem cell transplantation. Can be used combination of these methods. When enlargement of the spleen may require removal. In acute leukemia immediately after diagnosis to begin the treatment, the purpose of which is to achieve remission (absence of leukemic cells in the body). After this can be therapy to prevent relapse of the disease. Chronic leukemia can’t be cured, but can often control the cancer and its symptoms. These patients a chance for recovery provides bone marrow transplant.

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Complications of leukemia

Many of the complications of leukemia depend on reducing the number of normal blood cells, as well as from the side effects of the treatment. These include frequent infections, bleeding, weight loss and anemia. Other complications of leukemia are related to its specific type. For example, in 3 – 5% of cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells in transformirovalsya aggressive form of lymphoma. Another potential complication of this type of leukemia is an autoimmune hemolytic anemia in which the body destroys its own red blood cells.

Lysis syndrome tumors is a condition caused by the rapid death of cancer cells during the treatment. It can develop with any cancer, including leukemia with a large number of abnormal cells (eg, acute leukemia). The rapid destruction of these cells leads to the release of large quantities of phosphates, which can cause metabolic disorders and kidney failure. In children undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia may develop delayed adverse effects, including disorders of the Central nervous system, growth retardation, infertility, cataracts, increased risk of developing other cancers. The frequency of these long-term complications varies depending on age at treatment, the type and strength of the therapy.

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The prognosis for leukemia

The prognosis for leukemia depends on the type, age and General health of the patient. Mortality is higher in elderly than in young adults or children. When using modern treatment methods five-year survival in different types of leukemia is:

  • In chronic myeloid leukemia – 60%.
  • In chronic lymphocytic leukemia – 84%.
  • In acute myeloid leukemia – 25% overall; 66% in children and adolescents younger than 15 years.
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia – 70% overall; 92% of children and young people under the age of 15; 93% in children younger than 5 years.

Is it possible to prevent the development of leukemia?

Most people with leukemia, there are no risk factors for its development, preventing the emergence of this disease impossible. You can minimize some factors such as exposure to radiation or benzene, but this does not guarantee the prevention of leukemia.